NFL

2015 NFL Draft: Ranking the Preseason Top 25 Prospects

Preseason Rankings for the Top 25 Prospects

Marcus Mariota
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Yes, the 2015 NFL Draft is over eight months away. Who cares? Football season is here, which means college players will be trying to emerge as stars while NFL teams will be scouting ways to improve their rosters next offseason. NFL Draft season is year-round, so there will be no whining about this being too early.

With that in mind, here’s a look at my preseason Top 25 eligible prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft.

25. Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina

Mike Davis
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25. Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina

Mike Davis
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming he stays healthy this season, Davis could emerge as a potential workhorse at the next level. A power back with impressive strength at the point of contact, he does a great job of grinding for extra yards while also showing a good second gear in the open field. Plus, he’s an outstanding receiver out of the backfield. The tough, well-rounded game of Davis will certainly have scouts watching closely in 2014.

24. Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor

Shawn Oakman
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24. Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor

Shawn Oakman
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

This ranking is based largely on potential, as Oakman hasn’t quite figured out how to fully utilize his ridiculous physical gifts. However, if the 6’9’’ monster can develop into a consistent threat along the Baylor defensive line this season, his stock could skyrocket. Oakman needs to prove he can be a reliable run and pass defender, but the size and length will have NFL scouts drooling all season long.

23. Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford

Ty Montgomery
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23. Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford

Ty Montgomery
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Despite his natural ability, there’s quite a bit of boom-bust potential with Montgomery. The electric receiver is outstanding after the catch, but isn’t a great route runner and appears to be limited to manufactured touches. Still, his ability with the ball in his hands in undeniable. If he can become a more-polished route runner and get over a nagging shoulder injury, Montgomery has a promising NFL future.

22. La’el Collins, OT, LSU

La'el Collins
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

22. La’el Collins, OT, LSU

La'el Collins
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Put simply, Collins is far from a finished product. While he displayed the ability to excel as both a run and pass blocker last season, there’s still plenty of room for improvement across the board. He showed well against speed rushers last season, but also displayed some flawed techniques that will need work. My bet is he transitions to guard in the NFL, which should help him develop into a quality starter.

21. Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

Shaq Thompson
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21. Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

Shaq Thompson
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If there’s a true wild card in this draft class, it’s Thompson. While still flying under the radar, the Washington standout is quietly making a name for himself as a player worth watching this upcoming season. Extremely versatile with elite athleticism and explosiveness, Thompson could emerge as a true difference-maker for the Huskies as an outside linebacker/safety hybrid.

20. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

Melvin Gordon
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

20. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

Melvin Gordon
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re looking for a homerun threat on any given down, look no further than Gordon. The Badgers’ speed back is electric in the open field, using outstanding vision, acceleration and quickness to create yards. The fact that he isn’t much of a receiving threat definitely hurts his value, but Gordon has the talent to be a workhorse at the next level.

19. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Amari Cooper
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

19. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Amari Cooper
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Routinely drawing comparisons to Sammy Watkins, Cooper has a lot of expectations to live up to in 2014 after a toe injury held him back last season. Possessing outstanding speed and the size to fend off smaller defensive backs, he’s a threat to score six on just about any play. If he can get healthy and continue to refine his route running, Cooper will be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL before long.

18. Mario Edwards Jr., DE, Florida State

Mario Edwards Jr
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

18. Mario Edwards Jr., DE, Florida State

Mario Edwards Jr
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

More than anything, Edwards’ explosiveness and size are what grab scouts’ attention when watching his film. Since emerging as a star defensive end for the Seminoles, he’s continued to get stronger and quicker, displaying dominant abilities and above average athleticism for his size. The biggest issue is an inconsistent motor, which must be addressed this season if he’s going to be a first-round pick in May.

17. Devin Funchess, TE, Michigan

Devin Funchess
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17. Devin Funchess, TE, Michigan

Devin Funchess
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Considered a tight end through the first 26 games of his college career, Funchess is making the transition to wide receiver this season. However, he might be better suited at tight end in the NFL, especially considering the mismatch he’d create against linebackers and safeties. Not only does he possess tremendous size, but he’s a special athlete who moves better than most tight ends you’ll ever see.

16. P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State

P.J. Williams
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16. P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State

P.J. Williams
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

More than anything, Williams simply has a knack for making big plays when the pressure is on. He was the defensive MVP of the National Championship Game due to a timely interception and several big tackles. To top it off, he’s considered one of the best all-around cover cornerbacks in the nation, and should continue to elevate his stock after taking a big leap last season.

15. Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State

Michael Bennett
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

15. Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State

Michael Bennett
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

If your team desperately needs an interior pass rusher, Bennett is the guy you’ll want to be watching this season. While he doesn’t possess overwhelming power, he uses quickness off the line and leverage to force his way past blockers. The Buckeyes will be counting on him to lead their defensive line this season, and should see Bennett wreaking plenty of havoc throughout the season.

14. Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn

Sammie Coates
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

14. Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn

Sammie Coates
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s WR class doesn’t seem to have a true top dog, but Coates could easily earn that designation with a big season for the Tigers. Possessing absurd athleticism and a chiseled, muscular frame, the Auburn pass-catcher is quickly turning heads with his well-rounded game. Whether he’s overpowering defenders or speeding past them, Coates will find a way to shine this season.

13. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Jameis Winston
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

13. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Jameis Winston
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Great, Winston won the Heisman and led the Seminoles to a National Championship. That certainly doesn’t make him an elite quarterback, and the off-field issues don’t help his cause either. He looked great in his first season as Florida State’s starter, but there’s plenty that needs improvement. Between his mechanics and decision making, Winston has plenty of ground to cover in 2014.

12. Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

Randy Gregory
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

12. Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

Randy Gregory
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not as high on Gregory as many others. While this ranking reflects his potential, I have a hard time putting him in my Top 10. Every time I think about Gregory, my mind jumps to the Penn State game last year where he was utterly dominated by Donovan Smith. The athleticism is there, but he needs to get stronger and upgrade his arsenal if he’s going to thrive in the NFL.

11. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Todd Gurley
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

11. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Todd Gurley
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Arguably one of the most complete college backs in recent history, Gurley has all of the tools to be workhorse at the next level. Not only does he boast an outstanding combination of size, speed and power, but he also excels as a pass catcher. Durability is certainly going to be a concern, but Gurley’s future is bright if he can stay healthy.

10. Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Andrus Peat
Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

10. Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Andrus Peat
Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no denying that Peat has the talent to be an elite tackle at the next level, but we still need to see more from him before making that designation. All of the signs point to him being a star, from his impressive intelligence, outstanding athleticism and excellent length. His strength and run blocking could still use some work, but polish and experience will be key to Peat skyrocketing his stock in 2014.

9. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State

Shilique Calhoun
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

9. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State

Shilique Calhoun
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

I believe that Calhoun still has a lot of work to do before he’s ready to be elite, but the potential is certainly there. With terrific size, outstanding quickness and the motor to battle against the best offensive linemen in the nation, there’s no telling how high his stock can soar this upcoming season. Calhoun has the chance to be a staple in the Spartans’ tough defense if he can polish up his game.

8. Landon Collins, SS, Alabama

Landon Collins
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

8. Landon Collins, SS, Alabama

Landon Collins
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

This might seem high, but the talent really is there with Alabama’s latest stud safety. Collins flies all over the field on game day, making plays from sideline to sideline against both the run and pass. While he’s had his struggles with keeping people out of the end zone, it’s his tenacious playing style, hard-hitting attitude and instinctive approach to the game that make him a potential Top 10 pick.

7. Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Vic Beasley
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

7. Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Vic Beasley
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With the recent emphasis on sack artists who can consistently pressure opponent’s high-flying passing attacks, players like Beasley have become more valuable than ever. A pure speed rusher who does a great job of turning the corner, Beasley has all of the physical tools to be a premier edge rusher in the NFL. Not only is he explosive, but he also has the strength and experience to start immediately.

7. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

7. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Easily the top cornerback of the 2015 draft class, Ekpre-Olomu returned for his senior season despite a guaranteed spot in the first round of last year’s draft. While his coverage skills are near elite, it’s his instincts and toughness against the run that really make Ekpre-Olomu an intriguing prospect. As long as he stays healthy in 2014, this Duck will come off the board within the Top 10 picks.

5. Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Brandon Scherff
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Brandon Scherff
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

They grow ‘em big out there in Iowa. Scherff is a behemoth blocker for the Hawkeyes who possesses otherworldly strength, but also shows the quickness and agility on his feet to play any position along the front five. Combine those things with his never-quit attitude and relentless motor, and Scherff makes for one exciting prospect with the potential to move even higher up draft boards by May.

4. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

Brett Hundley
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

4. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

Brett Hundley
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

I know a lot of people won’t like this ranking, but they’ll understand it when the 2014 campaign comes to a close. Hundley displayed raw talent and leadership while returning UCLA to the national spotlight last year, and will take the next step towards stardom this upcoming season. With a big arm, plenty of athleticism and killer instincts in the pocket, Hundley is on his way to a Top 5 pick next May.

3. Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

Cedric Ogbuehi
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

3. Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

Cedric Ogbuehi
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While Ogbuehi is certainly a raw talent, his ceiling is sky-high. Possessing tremendous athleticism and agility for an offensive lineman, he could easily surpass Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews as the best tackle to come out of Texas A&M in the last few years. It’s going to be a big season for Ogbuehi, who could solidify himself as one of the best blockers of the last decade with a strong showing in 2014.

2. Leonard Williams, DE, USC

Leonard Williams
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2. Leonard Williams, DE, USC

Leonard Williams
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Very rarely does a defensive lineman of Williams’ size possess his athleticism. Not only is he extremely powerful and stout as a run defender, but he does a great job of putting pass protectors on their heels and pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Williams still needs more polish as the 2014 campaign kicks off, but USC should see him evolve into an elite prospect considering his talent and versatility.

1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Marcus Mariota
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Marcus Mariota
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

People will tell you otherwise, but Mariota is the top prospect in the 2015 draft class right now. His mechanics need some work, and there are some injury concerns, but the Ducks’ gunslinger is the full package. By the time the 2014 season is over, Mariota will have solidified himself as the top quarterback of the 2015 draft class.

Gil Alcaraz IV is the Director of Content for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.